Time to Start Thinking about Commissions for the Holidays

Today is already the middle October!  I’m so sad that I haven’t been able to have open studio gatherings to see you all.  We’re going to figure something out for the December party we normally have.  Since, I think we can only have about 5-7 people in the studio safely at once, we may schedule visits if you want to come in to sample a little homemade brew and shop for holiday gifts.  I will announce that possibility as we get a bit closer, and depending on the status of C-19 cases as winter weather sets in.  We haven’t even gotten through Halloween yet, so I assume most of you aren’t in the right mindset for that as of yet. 

What I do want to talk about right now is COMMISSIONED artwork.  I have had a nearly perfect record with successful commissions.  I just finished a piece for a local fire fighter who works just down the street from my studio.  He wanted a painting to commemorate a trip with his girlfriend to Orca Island in Resurrection Bay.  The painting was supposed to be a surprise, but he told his girlfriend about it when she was having a bad day, and she cried!  The only problem with commissioning a painting for a holiday gift is I run out of time to get them all painted, so getting in early is better.  In 2016 I completed 24 individual paintings that my patrons commissioned for holiday gifts.  I felt like an elf that year, and my beard started to twinkle with a bit of varnish by December 15, the last day possible for paintings to dry in time for the 25th.  I suggest you look through the pictures of your favorite trip this year, or last year (considering a lot of us have been hunkering down and not going anywhere since March).  It always brings a smile to see people so excited to give the gift of a special painting!  Cheers, and I look forward to seeing what you bring for me to paint! 

We Miss Our Open Studio Events!

If this were a normal year, we would be cleaning the studio today, and converting it into a pop-up gallery for the First Friday Art Walk that would be happening tomorrow.  Sadly, with the C-19 threat, we haven’t had anyone inside the studio except for a few individuals who stopped by to pick up paintings.  On a couple occasions, I have taught drawing lessons, and everyone wore masks and sat 6 ft apart.  Little to say, I don’t believe the pandemic will be over by First Friday in December, which is when we host the super fun holiday studio party.  I usually brew a couple batches of home-brew for the event, but this year I can forego brewing.  

During the summer this was just fine.  We were in McCarthy, and we don’t normally have open studio parties, because on Friday nights most Alaskans are out of town, recreating in our beautiful wilderness, or busy with sporting events.  Now that Winter is breathing down Fall’s neck, we’re starting to really miss the open studio events.  October First Friday is one of my favorite times to regroup with my Anchorage friends and collectors.  The studio is very useful — we are here every day working on paintings, mailing online orders, but it’s starting to get a bit lonely, especially when I look at my unused Art Show sign.  Dragging the big hulking beast of a sign out to the front of the building is a chore I always associate with the party itself.  The uncertainty of how much art I might sell, or who might stop by is always present when I am dragging it out.  Now on one of these Friday nights I don’t have any plans.  I guess I will read a book, or work late making paintings.  

I miss you all, and look forward to when this pandemic is over, so we can all get back together for a “cup of coffee” at the studio.  I love offering a cookie, and maybe some of those little carrots, as well as having a chance to show off my newest work to you in person.  I stand by my tagline, “Real Art is Better,” and even though I have been selling more art online than normal, I really like seeing peoples’ reactions to the original paintings.  Currently I have several paintings hanging at reHARU Sushi, and I encourage you to go there not only to see my art, but also to eat the delicious Japanese food!  Also, if you see a painting on my website that you really like, you can always arrange a studio visit.

So I raise my glass, and toast, “Here’s to staying healthy and hunkering down so we can get through this pandemic soon!”  Stay safe out there, people, and I look forward to seeing you when I can! 

Stop Blaming the Beer!

Many people have told me that beer is bad for your health.  Some even say that it makes men grow breasts, not to mention a beer belly.  There’s an “herb-an” legend that hops contain estrogen, which causes male bodies to start resembling those of pregnant women.  Obviously, drinking too much alcohol, whether it be wine, spirits, or beer, is bad for you, especially your cardiovascular system and your liver functions.  My doctor told me a guy my size should only consume on average two drinks per day.  She did not say that beer was any worse than the other beverages.  I have heard doctors say that wine is better than spirits, or beer, because at least you are getting a little bit of grape juice.  It seems to me that straight distilled alcohol is the harshest on your system due to its dehydrating effects.  

Where do the fatty guts and man breasts fit in?  I was talking to Dr. Ted over at Turnagain Brewing and he said that plant-based estrogen is different from animal estrogen, and will affect your body differently.  So, drinking hoppy beer is not like taking an estrogen pill, which would probably make a man grow boobs.  People tend to overeat and drink too much when they are stressed out, and this pandemic is intensifying the problem.  I am no doctor, but it seems to me increased stress leads to lack of motivation, and lack of exercise.  Sedentary lifestyles lead to a testosterone level decrease.  Quit blaming the beer, make healthy decisions, workout!  Even a 30-minute walk every day will make you feel great!  Cut back on those extra snacks, remember to take time to make that bowel movement, and then maybe beer will lose that negative stigma.  Cheers to verisimilitude!  Don’t let anti-beer propaganda make decisions for you!  

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #82 by Scott Clendaniel. July 21, 2016. Rainier BEAR. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #82 by Scott Clendaniel. July 21, 2016. Rainier BEAR. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Back to Canvas

Recently I started painting on canvas again.  Last year I had to build a giant painting (12ft x 6ft) for a clinic in Bethel, and decided it would be best to paint it on canvas, roll it up, then fly there to rebuild and re-stretch it.  I was pleased with the results.  The end product was quite different from the hardwood plywood panels, but I found it to be easier to put certain details into the painting.  The finishing work required to put a painting on the wall — framing or painting the sides, has always been a hurdle for me, and I remember one of my college professors praising my paintings, but criticizing my shoddy frames.  I often see paintings framed poorly, and I have striven since those early college failures to produce professional looking pieces.  I still have some of those old canvases rolled up, but fortunately I did away with the garish frames.  In my defense, I was framing them on the catwalk balcony at my dorm room, because the sculpture professor wouldn’t let me make frames in the state-of-the-art sculpture lab.

A finished canvas without a frame needs to have a full wrap so the edges may be painted.  I didn’t make canvases that way until I was taught how to do so in class.  Frames need to have a lip that covers the front edge of the painting so you don’t have a distracting gap.  Previously, I used to laminate a piece of hardwood to the edges of a painting and sand the edge back to make a finished looking box, which is impossible with canvas.  That also takes a ton of work, since I am without a wood-shop, just like in the old dorm-room days.  Operating a table saw and a chop saw outside in the snow and 10 degrees is not my idea of fun.  Nobody ever told me being an artist was going to be easy.  In fact, I was told a successful artist works harder than most people.  I don’t know how hard I actually work, but I do seem to always be out of time.  I don’t really like power sanding, so I ordered a case of professional grade canvases.  I’ll give them a try and maybe I can just paint the edges and skip that snowy outdoor time with the annoying power-tools.

Painting on a canvas is completely different than the techniques I have been using on the hardwood panels.  My gold and red underpainting doesn’t work the same, so I have gone back to a traditional painting technique I haven’t used in a decade.  I was always about getting the colors to scream on the surface, but I am now more interested in getting a more accurate depiction.  I am now making an underpainting that represents the grayscale values, and not the primary colors I always used previously, which makes me like using canvas way more.  Canvas paintings reproduce better as canvas prints, since it is the same material used to begin with.  The gold and red painting surface that I have been using, looks great as an original, but always misses a bit as a reproduction.  I am switching over for completely practical reasons.  It seems very few people purchase original paintings.  I sell 20, or more prints and then maybe one original.  Even though my originals are pretty affordable, and I price my prints a bit higher than average.

Painting on canvas takes more time as I am forced to work with layering techniques.  The alla-prima technique looks lackluster without the red and gold underpainting.  It is necessary to build up layers to completely cover the canvas and fill in the little white spots that form around painted objects.  This takes more time and requires mixing mediums.  I will probably have to charge more for originals, since it takes way longer to make canvas paintings.  I originally started painting on the red and gold panels because it worked so well in a Plein Air (outdoors painting) environment.  I could start and finish a painting before it started to rain, or the sun moved too far, changing the shadows.  I was also making smaller pieces.  Are the red and gold panels to be retired forever?  Of course not!  I will still make some pieces using my signature technique, but I also have bought two large canvases and want to see where these traditional materials lead me.

The underpainting with grayscale values.

Close to being finished, just needs a few more details.

The large 5ft x 4ft canvas that I’ll be painting soon. Just need to figure out what to paint. I have two of these.

How I Won My First Beer Brewing Contest – by Maria Benner

This is a guest post by Maria Benner, the Business Manager of Real Art Is Better.  Scott asked me to write this post today about my experience winning my first beer brewing contest.  He had a lot to do with that!

During Alaska Beer Week, one of the events is Turnagain Brewing‘s Tart Side Challenge.  Members of the Great Northern Brewers Club who choose to participate pick up 1 gallon of unfermented wort from Turnagain Brewing, which is the brewery’s base for its sour beers.  Then contest participants flavor the wort at home with ingredients of their choice, bottle the beer, and submit it for judging.  The brewery then brews a big batch of the winning recipe.  Well, Alaska Beer Week was re-scheduled at the last minute this year in January, so I missed it, because I was in India.  So, Scott showed up to the brewery to pick up his 1 gallon, and Ted, the owner, let him take another gallon on my behalf, and the two of them entered me into the contest by proxy.  Scott called me, and asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him to put blueberries in it.  He flavored my gallon with frozen whole organic blueberries from Costco, and added a little DME for extra carbonation.  When I returned from my trip, I bottled the beer, and then we submitted our entries to the brewery a couple months later.  Scott flavored his batch with honey and ginger, which was delicious!

The judging took place at the GNBC annual campout in June, and my blueberry beer was declared the winner!  So Ted called me to congratulate me, and to ask me how I made the beer, so I told him that I was in India, and Scott flavored it.  So Ted called Scott to get the recipe.  Turnagain Brewing was short on fermentation capacity, so Ted fermented my blueberry beer in a red wine barrel.  So the beer turned out very different from my/Scott’s version, but it was really tasty!  The red wine barrel added depth, and a bit more sour flavor.  Ted also boosted the amount of blueberries by 25% to 1.25 lbs per gallon, and pulverized them, instead of adding them whole.  The result was a deep purple beer!  We named it Blueberry Avalanche.

Well, the big release date was set for August 12th, but no one checked with us, and we had already planned to be at our cabin in McCarthy during that time.  So Ted was kind enough to arrange a wholesale of one pony keg to the owner of The Potato restaurant in McCarthy, just so I could also drink my beer along with everyone else on the 12th.  Scott and I personally delivered the keg to McCarthy.  The night before the big day I texted the owner of The Potato to ask when my keg would be on draft.  She told me we had to finish some keg of kristallweizen first.  So the next day I texted her again, and stressed the importance of debuting my blueberry beer on August 12th, the same day as in Anchorage.  She was kind enough to switch out the kegs, and I was super happy to drink two pints of my beer in McCarthy on the release date!  Some of my friends in Anchorage were drinking it at Turnagain Brewing, and sending me messages about how much they liked the beer!  I heard it was very popular.  There were only six pony kegs in existence, and they were all gone in less than five days.

Thanks to Turnagain Brewing, my hubby, the GNBC, and The Potato for making this experience so fun for me!  I’m looking forward to participating in more brewing contests!

“Brewed by local Maria Benner”

Cheers!

 

National IPA Day, or Business As Usual

Today is National IPA Day!  For me, everyday is IPA day, but it’s nice to know that there’s a day especially dedicated to this hoppy style of brew.  I’m celebrating in the small community of McCarthy, Alaska, where IPA is the most popular style of beer aside from PBR.  I feel the only reason people drink PBR here over IPA is the price.  IPA requires a lot of hops, which makes it more expensive.  When I brew a five gallon batch and I dry hop the beer to make it an IPA, I lose a gallon due to hop absorption.  I need a huge french press to squeeze out the hops from the beer!
On Saturday Maria and I went to Cynosure Brewing, and were drinking a really fresh dry-hopped Hazy IPA called #005.  We convinced the local restaurant in McCarthy “The Potato” to purchase a keg per our recommendation.  The owner and beer purchaser for The Potato was an easy sell on a keg of IPA.  She said that IPA is the most popular beer they sell at the restaurant!  So the #005 is here and I can stop on in for a draft of the freshest IPA around.  I have a 1/6 barrel keg, here at my cabin, of Glacier Brewhouse IPA, which I had bought a few days before I made it into Cynosure.
In honor of the important holiday, tonight I will be having a little IPA tasting.  I have a couple of different selections from Anchorage Brewing and Broken Tooth Brewing, as well as the keg.  Cheers to hoppy beers!  IPA all the way!

Enjoying Cynosure Brewing’s #005 hazy IPA at The Potato in McCarthy, Alaska.

Beer Pac-Man

Ready Player One!  Grab your beer and steal those laundry quarters from your roommate for a couple rounds of beer Pac-Man!  This classic yellow hungry fellow wants to go all in and have a few pints.  The Ghosts are stoked because they never have to hide from a drunken Pac-Man.  The corner dots don’t work in this video-game-inspired painting, instead they have become special power-up beers.  Pac-Man thinks he is suave and debonair once he swills a few of these down, but after a six-pack of the yellow fizzies, he is slow and unresponsive.  Not quite a “Game Over,” but definitely a “Bed Time” is happening soon.  Another factor is that after a few of these digital pints Pac-Man thinks Ms. Pac-Man is a perfect 10!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop.

Beer Pac Man by Scott Clendaniel

Beer Pac Man, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, by Scott Clendaniel

Natty Light Naturdays

Natty-McNatty-Naturdays!  I had a few of these strawberry-lemonade-light-lager-shandies when a friend brought them up to our cabin.  Very refreshing and a nice lower ABV option to swill between double IPAs and imperial stouts.  I love the pink can with the flamingo motif, which is why I chose to put this can in the Flamingo Hotel’s Flamingo Habitat in Las Vegas.  It actually is a pretty good version of a shandy, not as sweet as you might imagine.  For that matter, regular Natural Light is okay, just do me a favor and don’t ever buy the Natural ICE, it tastes like acetone.  Cheers to friends, pink cans of beer, and the love of Saturday!  Get natural this weekend and have a Naturdays!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop.

Naturdays Beer Painting by Scott Clendaniel

Natural Light Naturdays. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Polygamy Porter by Wasatch Brewery

I love traveling, and one of the best things about going to new places is seeking out new beers.  Utah is one of my favorite destinations, but for skiing and mountains, not for the beer.  There is some good beer to be found, but the strict alcohol rules make it difficult to purchase, or consume at most establishments.  Luckily, last year they finally upped the percentage a bit, and now you can find 5% beers on draft.  I have been asked to paint the Polygamy Porter for a long time, but until I actually went to Salt Lake City, I had a hard time coming up with a concept for the painting.  When I finally went there last year, we visited Temple Square, where the Salt Lake Temple is located, and took a picture of the monumental temple with the intention of using it for a painting of Polygamy Porter.  This beer is made as a tongue and cheek brew.  The motto for the beer is, “Why have just one?”  This painting is also made to be tongue and cheek, please don’t take it too seriously.  When I was painting it, I was totally concerned that I might offend people, so my answer is please don’t be offended, it’s just a joke.

Cheers to Polygamy Porter!  May the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints take my ribbing and Wasatch’s porter the right way, in good humor, if not in good “spirits.”

The original oil painting sold, but limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop.

Polygamy Porter beer painting by Scott Clendaniel

Polygamy Porter by Wasatch Brewery. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

An Art Show During a Pandemic. The show will go on!

First Firkin Friday with Scott Clendaniel at Midnight Sun Brewing

We recently returned from our cabin in McCarthy to the metropolis known as Anchorage.  Maria and I both experienced small culture shock from the peaceful surroundings of our ten acres near Wrangell – St. Elias National Park compared to the industrialized buzz of the Anchorage city scene.  At the end of a two week stay all the treats we stockpiled to bring to the cabin start to run out and pretty soon you are making a lentil casserole from leftover ingredients.  At the cabin the birds were chirping and the loudest noise in the area was ourselves.  In Anchorage, the place where supplies are plentiful, we ordered sushi the night we arrived to our condo.  It was crazy to hear sirens, neighbors’ doors opening and closing, and the garbage truck.

We returned because I have an art show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. starting this Friday, June 5th, and lasting for the whole month.  I have been working hard to get a new group of paintings together for this show.  The new pieces represent the four seasons of nature in Alaska’s Boreal forest, and I think they turned out pretty well.  Alaska is still experiencing over a dozen new cases of the Covies each day, but the Governor said we can start socializing again, so the show will go on, but don’t forget your mask.  I’ll tap the firkin at 5pm, and last call will be at 8pm.

Upon returning to Anchorage I was pretty stoked to go into MSBC and have a beer with my friends again.  MSBC didn’t get to celebrate its 25th birthday on the 5th of May the way it normally does, so this week the brewery is having a small celebration by offering some serious barrel aged beauties on draft.  Yesterday I stopped in and they had Arctic Devil barleywine, Sloth imperial stout, Bar Fly smoked imperial stout, the 25th anniversary barrel aged quad, and the Grand Crew Brew all on draft.  The walls at the Loft were bare when I got back Sunday, so I hung some paintings Monday.  I will hang the remaining 33 paintings tonight, and I will see if those barrel aged beers are still on draft.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite nights of the summer when I get to host the First Firkin Friday for June.  If the barrel aged delights are no longer on the menu, never fear, because there will be a special cask of Sloth aged on blackberries!  I will be bringing my craft fair table and will be selling art cards and stickers while sipping the tasty brews around my face mask.  It has been since 2013 that I have been enjoying MSBC’s hospitality in June, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the beginning of summer than sharing a small glass of Sloth with you!   So don’t go hiking at 5PM tomorrow, because you won’t get back in time, the brewery still closes at 8pm.  This isn’t a problem in the winter, but during summer, sometimes you have to set an alarm to make sure it doesn’t get too late for fresh beer at the tasting rooms!  I look forward to seeing all your sparkling eyes, if I miss being able to see your big smiles under your masks tomorrow!  Cheers to summer!